Personalfinance tips

Save Money Automatically

Ok, we already talked about paying yourself first, but this is another way to get some extra savings. How it works is simple: You download an app that rounds up your purchases and invests the spare change automatically. For example, let's say you buy an avocado toast for $1.75. These apps would see that purchase, automatically round it up to $2.00, and invest the $0.25. It's awesome because you won't even notice the money leaving your account!

  • If you're in the US or Australia, you'll want to sign up for Acorns ($5 sign up bonus).
  • If you're in Canada you'll want to sign up for Mylo ($5 sign up bonus) (full Mylo review here).

Creating a Miscellaneous Category In Your Budget

As mentioned above there are always extra expenses that should be planned for such as the holiday spending. You can either set up a separate savings account like what was mentioned above or you can create a miscellaneous category in your budget to cover these expenses. If you decide to use the miscellaneous category, be sure to label what it covers. For example you could cover holiday spending, vacations, and other one time events that may occur within the year.

Set a Budget For Christmas and Holiday Spending

Following budgeting tips and tricks will get you a long way. However, when it comes to the holiday spending, make sure all of your year-long budgeting efforts are not blown off course due to holiday spending. The last three months of the year usually have the highest consumer credit card debt. A big reason for this is that people fail to plan within their budget to address Christmas and holiday spending increases. Just sending out Christmas cards and postage to some of your family friends and relatives could easily cost $50 or more. If you have to prepare the holiday meal, there will be extra cost for food, drinks, and other items that you would regularly not be planning for as an expense in your budget. An easy way to address these additional costs is to set aside a certain amount of savings each month such as $50. You can create a second savings account and dedicate $50 a month towards it to cover these holiday costs. By the end of the year you will have $600 making this one of the best budgeting tips and tricks to boost your budget. As your budget improves so will other things, such as your credit score. Check out my post on how to improve your credit score that includes the steps necessary to quickly improve your FICO score.

Making Seasonal Adjustments To Your Budget

As we described above there are certain types of flexible expenses that are higher at certain times of the year. One way to address this is to use budgetary guidelines for the monthly high for the whole year as your budget expense. This is a good strategy to sort of imply forced savings for the months that you do not hit that high. For example in the summer time you will not be running your furnace so your natural gas expense would not come anywhere close to what it would be during the winter months. Another way for you to achieve your financial goals is to make seasonal adjustments in your budget. You can do this by looking at all of your flexible expenses during the four seasons.  Calculate what the average is for those times of the year and you can use that amount for is your monthly budgeted expense.

Check Your Interest Rate

Q: Which loan should you pay off first? A: The one with the highest interest rate. Q: Which savings account should you open? A: The one with the best interest rate. Q: Why does credit card debt give us such a headache? A: Blame it on the compound interest rate. Bottom line here: Paying attention to interest rates will help inform which debt or savings commitments you should focus on.

Create a Financial Calendar

If you don’t trust yourself to remember to pay your quarterly taxes or periodically pull a credit report, think about setting appointment reminders for these important money to-dos in the same way that you would an annual doctor’s visit or car tune-up. A good place to start? Our ultimate financial calendar.

Track Your Net Worth

Your net worth—the difference between your assets and debt—is the big-picture number that can tell you where you stand financially. Keep an eye on it, and it can help keep you apprised of the progress you’re making toward your financial goals—or warn you if you’re backsliding.

Analyze Your Budget When You Have Lifestyle Changes

Regularly analyzing your budget is one of the best budgeting tips and tricks to follow. When you have a major change in your life such as getting married, divorced, moving out on your own, or taking a new job, you should always analyze your budget. There are all kinds of reasons to change your household budget strategy.  Any of these factors could have a major change on your income and future expenses. You want to make sure that your budget will financially address all of your needs and concerns for this major lifestyle change. You don’t want to assume that everything will be OK. Be sure to write down what the financial implications will be into an analysis with your budget so you can be prepared ahead of time.

Set a Budget, Period

This is the starting point for every other goal in your life. Here’s a checklist for building a knockout personal budget.

Take a Daily Money Minute

This one comes straight from LearnVest Founder and CEO Alexa von Tobel, who swears by setting aside one minute each day to check on her financial transactions. This 60-second act helps identify problems immediately, keep track of goal progress—and set your spending tone for the rest of the day!